Why Are Ferguson Activists Dying?

The most iconic photo of the Ferguson, Mo., protests, if not the entire Black Lives Matter movement, is of Edward Crawford defiantly throwing a tear gas canister back at riot police. And now he’s dead.

I’d wanted to post a more philosophical diary that requires more reading than my loaded-up RL obligations allow me for now.  But this hit me hard, and I wanted to let you all know this horrid news in case you hadn’t heard.  

From Jason Johnson at the Root: ‘Ferguson, Mo., Activists Are Dying and It’s Time to Ask Questions’, May 5

“Crawford was found shot to death Thursday night in his car, just like activist Darren Seals in 2016 and protester DeAndre Joshua the night of the Ferguson verdict in 2014. The latter two had gunshot wounds to the head and their cars were lit on fire. Crawford, it is believed by police, shot himself in the back seat of his car either in an attempted suicide or by accident.

Given the justifiable lack of trust between local activists, black residents and the police, however, questions remain about this story. In order to bring justice to Crawford, his family and the entire Black Lives Movement, it’s about time we started asking tough questions about their deaths.

Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal broke the news on Twitter this morning that Crawford had been killed. What was striking is not just the anguish in her tweets but also the details she provides.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch initially noted only that Crawford died of gunshot wounds. It now says that the death was reported to the medical examiner’s office as a suicide, but the medical examiner hasn’t issued an official cause of death yet, pending an autopsy. The Dispatch’s report conveniently leaves out that Crawford’s death is strikingly similar to that of Seals and Joshua, whose deaths were so similar that even the St. Louis Police Department thought they were linked by the same killer.

Chappelle-Nadal, who represents Ferguson and is a firebrand for the Black Lives Matter movement, has been following the tragic story as it happened and has expressed doubts about the cause of Crawford’s death.”  [longish snip]

“As the day goes on and more details trickle out, it doesn’t make it any easier to determine the cause of Crawford’s death, which opens the door to fear, speculation and, potentially, belief that it’s a conspiracy. Why would Crawford, a father of four who, according to his family, appeared to be in high spirits after getting a new job, just kill himself in his car? [wd here: shades of Sandra Bland?]  Moreover, the latest reports are that Crawford was in the back seat and two women were in the front. Suicides are usually committed alone, away from anyone who could possibly prevent the suicidal person from going through with the process. Who were the two women, and what are their full statements about the death?” [snip]

We are in an era where the White House considers Black Lives Matter to be a terrorist organization. Deliberate attacks against black people who are fighting for justice—whether the Rev. Clementa Pinckney of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., or half a dozen other activists killed by white nationalists in the last decade—are not far-fetched. Regardless of the eventual conclusions about Edward Crawford, St. Louis police have still suggested that the deaths of Joshua and Seals were likely homicides.

School, the post office and the mall will still be open on Crawford’s birthday, and he won’t get a special on PBS narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, but like many forgotten martyrs of the movement, he was a human being, too. Crawford was a dedicated activist for people on the ground who needed someone to stand up for them. Let’s hope that in investigating his death, the local community in Ferguson will fight for him in death as hard as he fought for them in life.”

This is another iconic photo from Ferguson:

Rest in Power, Edward Crawford; the world was a better place with you alive.  One day, just maybe, we’ll find out how your life ended.

10 responses to “Why Are Ferguson Activists Dying?

  1. F0R This same “reason” ( ~ video time – 1:00) :

    Nix0n DEM ALL !

    • jayus, bruce; thank you. i watched all 6+ minutes. fine music: glosoli? the surreal music box effect made it too, too, poignant not to make tears well up. crazily, i hadn’t remembered that two men had been bayoneted, and for that i apologize to them. but it’s so dislocating, no many how many videos i watch (and this is one of the finest) to see my old stomping grounds so torn by war on dissidents. to see students tossing back the tear gas canisters in this one, well, yes, iconic of the struggles against the security state.

      fuck the mayor of kent, fuck gov. rhodes, fuck richard milhous nixon, curse his name. i may have said earlier, but i just happened to be in kent for the first anniversary (may 4, 1971) commemorations. words fail. allison krause’s father’s words at the end of the video were brilliant testimony, weren’t they?

      and so often forgotten: two murdered, 12 wounded at jackson state ten days later. i need to take a break to feel it all again, muse about the many accounts i’ve read, including michener’s. odd that i can’t recall his conclusions these many years later…

    • couldn’t help myself, bruce. and i don’t have time to read about the tribunals, but should you care to: (i’ll embed the links when i have more time…)

      i’d remembered something at CP some years back, failure to investigate new audio recording, from linn washington via CP :

      from neil young news, reports from the kent state tribunal, oct. 2011:

      oh, and fuck james michener, too, by the by.

    • What I remember from the coverage at the time was a guy in civilian dress with a pistol and a gas-mask on his head in a pic in Life magazine’s coverage. Turns out that the guy was the Ohio adjutant general (head of the National Guard); Life likely captured a moment right around the order to fire. As reported at the time, the Ohio National Guard executed a maneuver of retreat-reverse-fire that fired the lethal shots. The most common reaction on campus (I was in grad school) was “They shoot students, don’t they.”, a gallows-humor play on a then popular film title.

  2. The truth is that ‘our’ Poppy’s (Bushs’) generation was (and REMAIN$) prepared to kill its (US) young, abroad 0R, at home. The (MY) regret is I (we) failed to join the protests (sufficiently) for US to prevail, then ! Now, (see St. Pete ‘protests’); history tragically repeats.

    Also, my latest CP fave :

    • Bruce; I liked your link very much, thanks.

    • thank you, bruce. would there have been protest numbers sufficient to the task? but dig it: for the chenoweth diary, i googled for polling on ‘amerikan polling on war’. the most recent i’d found was some ccn poll, and it looked quite partisan after herr hair’s election, but i couldn’t find a similar one from say…two years earlier. but it was neatly split R v D (when indies are the largest plurality, or were, last time i’d checked).

      Ds were against more war, Rs not so worried, but almost every person polled was pro-NATO. i ask you…

  3. Awaiting millenials in their millions (THEY ARE NOW THE GREATEST GENERATION In numbers …) : * My most recent missive to them in St. Pete for Peace –

    “Rise like Lions after slumber
    In unvanquishable number-
    Shake your chains to earth like dew
    Which in sleep had fallen on you
    Ye are many-they are few.”

    ― Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Masque of Anarchy: Written on Occasion of the Massacre at Manchester

    • nice, bruce. i hadn’t heard mike and the mechanics in a decade or more. and i love the shelley; use it myownself now and again. ;-)

      i’ll add:
      ‘Third Mysterious Death of a Black Ferguson Activist’; Edward Crawford is the third mysterious death of a young Black activist man in Ferguson over the past three years. Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report argues that this cannot be a coincidence (the transcript)

    • i know it’s a bit silly, but as i was doing some chores earlier i’d remembered that before mr. and i went to town to ‘occupy mancos’, i’d blast this both in the house, then in the car as we headed up the canyon. gave me, in particular, some personal power to stand on the corner on crutches. ;-) but it was great that sooo many people stopped by to ask wtf? and allow us to listen to their politics, etc., and respond to them quietly. most all of them left nodding rather…bewilderedly.

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